New conference explores healing power of arts for mental health in Wales

The inaugural ‘Weave’ conference will take place in Newport this October


Wales’ leading arts, health and policy minds will gather in Newport this October to explore the positive impact the arts can have on mental health and wellbeing as part of a new national conference.
Weave is a free, bilingual event, organised by Wales Arts Health and Wellbeing Network (WAHWN) in partnership with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, designed to build on Wales’ pioneering arts and health partnerships, progress and successes in recent years.  It will take place on 4 October at the Lysaght Institute in Newport, with funding from Arts Council of Wales and the Baring Foundation.
Lynne Neagle, Deputy Minister of Mental Health and Wellbeing; Derek Walker, the Wellbeing and Future Generations Commissioner; Nina Ruddle, Head of Public Policy Engagement at Wrexham Glyndŵr University; and Peter Carr, Executive Director of Therapies and Health Science at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, are among the confirmed list of speakers. Breakout sessions will spotlight exemplary creative health partnership projects taking place across Wales, such as those supporting veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and Welsh language creative workshops for people affected by addiction.

“WAHWN is delighted to be hosting its inaugural national arts and mental health conference in partnership,” said Angela Rogers, WAHWN Coordinator. “We’re looking forward to welcoming thought leaders from across arts and health to explore, debate and celebrate creative and innovative partnership approaches that are helping tackle mental health challenges in Wales.    

“There is an ever-growing body of evidence demonstrating the powerful impact the arts can have on our mental health and wellbeing and even life expectancy. So, it’s in all our interests to keep this national conversation going and work together to help tackle the current mental health crisis.”
The Weave conference marks a new milestone in efforts to embed arts and creativity in Wales’ health and care approaches. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh NHS Confederation, now in its seventh year, has produced groundbreaking initiatives, including the introduction of arts and health coordinators within each of Wales' health boards, and garnered global recognition.

Sally Lewis, Programme Manager for Arts, Health & Wellbeing at Arts Council of Wales said: “The arts are increasingly being recognised globally as an important partner in supporting people’s health and wellbeing – and Wales has been advancing some significant work in this area that we should all be proud of.

“But there is more to be done. As the Welsh Government looks to prepare its new national mental health strategy, Weave offers a great opportunity to capitalise on the spirit of collaboration and cross-sector cooperation currently thriving in Wales. Critically, by getting practitioners and decision makers together in a room, Weave will provide a space to discuss the mental health challenges and priorities facing the NHS in Wales, [SL1] share best practice, and explore future creative solutions.”
Mr Carr, added: “Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is proud to partner with WAHWN on the 2023 arts and mental health conference.  The Health Board is committed to supporting the application of arts for health and wellbeing, for the benefits of our patients, staff and wider community, as set out in our recently published Arts in Health Strategy.”
Weave is a free event with a limited number of tickets available. For more information, including how to book tickets and programme updates, please visit https://wahwn.cymru/conference
For more information or interview opportunities, contact comms@wahwn.cymru